Washington State House Democrats announcement.
Late Saturday night (Feb. 12, 2022), the House passed HB 1827, the Community Reinvestment Program prime sponsored by Rep. Melanie Morgan (D-Parkland). The Community Reinvestment Program, governor-request legislation which passed 57-41 along party lines, stems from recommendations from the Social Equity in Cannabis Task Force (SECTF), chaired by Rep. Morgan, and invests $125 million annually into economic development, homeownership, civil and criminal legal assistance, community-based violence intervention and prevention services, and reentry services for formerly incarcerated individuals.
“HB 1827 seeks to address racial, economic, and social disparities in our communities across the state by rebuilding trust and renewing our shared interest in seeing communities thrive,” said Morgan during the floor debate. “We can remove barriers and invest in people who deserve a better life and in communities that have been held back for far too long. This is a necessary step in our path toward racial reconciliation and to improving the lives of all Washingtonians in all communities.”
As Chair of the SECTF, Rep. Morgan facilitated public testimony from communities and the common theme was a strong interest in reinvesting in communities wronged by the War on Drugs, with a strong focus on creating economic opportunities and helping those who are struggling to recover from involvement from the criminal justice system.
In order to get investments to communities quickly, HB 1827 will provide access to capital through grants and loans for small businesses and entrepreneurs, financial assistance for first time low-income homebuyers, and legal assistance to help expunge criminal records and vacate criminal convictions for those who qualify through existing state programs for two years. During that time, a Community Reinvestment Plan will be developed in coordination with the Department of Commerce and the Office of Equity to determine how to distribute investments more directly to communities disproportionately impacted by the War on Drugs.
The Community Reinvestment Plan must be submitted to the Legislature by December 1, 2023 and implemented by July 2024.
Rep. Morgan serves as both Deputy Majority Floor Leader and Chair of the Members of Color Caucus (MOCC). The MOCC seeks to remove all barriers of racial discrimination through democratic processes and to provide equity, access, and opportunity for all communities of color, representing one-third of the House Democratic Caucus.